Animal control in Sparta, IL is supervised by Commissioner of Health and Safety Gary Hanna. In December 2013, Sparta veterinarian Tim Allard and his wife Paula complained to Mr. Hanna regarding the actions of ACO Melvin Eggemeyer. The Allards say they told Mr. Hanna that ACO Eggemeyer picked up a dog who had been euthanized at their clinic, placed him on the tailgate of his truck and drove away with the tailgate still open, allowing clients at the vet clinic to see the deceased pet. He then reportedly pulled into a nearby restaurant where kids were eating with their families and the dead dog fell off the truck in the parking lot.
The Allards say they also complained to Mr. Hanna regarding ACO Eggemeyer’s improper handling of stray cats:
“He brought a cat in here one day and wanted us to euthanize it and the vet that worked for us at the time said they would not euthanize the animal because it did have a microchip,” Paula said. “He (Eggemeyer) got upset and took the animal and left and we don’t know what happened to it.”
Sparta pet owner Linda Mines said her cat was lost and apparently killed in August, found deceased by a neighbor who called AC to pick up the body. The cat was wearing tags with the owner’s name, address, and phone number at the time she was killed but ACO Eggemeyer never contacted her. She was ultimately able to get her pet’s collar back from the police department but says her complaints were ignored. Ms. Mines says she called Gary Hanna with a complaint about ACO Eggemeyer but he never responded to her call.
Sparta Police Chief Sean Lukes says he’s never heard of any complaints about ACO Eggemeyer and he knows nuffink.
Last month, an 8 year old Lab called Mocha got lost and the owner called AC to see if his pet was at the facility. He was told yes, Mocha was there, so he went to AC to reclaim him. Upon arrival, he found Mocha dead in a cage. Turns out, Mocha was owned by the son of Sparta’s mayor.
Dr. Tim Allard conducted a necropsy on Mocha to determine how the dog died and turned his findings over to authorities. As a result of those findings, which have not been made public, ACO Eggemeyer was charged with animal cruelty and suspended by Gary Hanna. Eggemeyer resigned shortly thereafter.
Apparently Eggemeyer finally killed the wrong family’s pet. Had Sparta city officials taken seriously the complaints over Eggemeyer’s callous disregard for the pets in his care months ago, he might not have been on the job at the time Mocha got lost. How tragic that it seems to have taken the killing of a politically affiliated family’s pet to get authorities to straighten up and fly right.
Sparta police chief Sean Lukes said “that the town would have proper training in place for the position in the future.” Oh gee, don’t put yourself out.
Gary Hanna hid from the media when they came seeking a comment but later faxed this totally sincere statement to the paper:
“The City of Sparta sincerely regrets any time in which a resident’s pet dies while in the care of the local Animal Control Officer.” The statement went on to say that any further inquiries must be made to the Randolph County State’s Attorney.
What a guy.
Eggemeyer is scheduled to appear in court for the misdemeanor cruelty charge today.
(Thanks Clarice for the link.)